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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    December 13, 2012
    5:00 - 8:00pm EST  

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we'd like to add indicate -- advocate the things that people sent us here to do. if we have something to say in an amendment, if we're in the minority, we'd like to have the chance to make that amendment. what a number of us are doing, we've been talking, is how can we do two simple things, how can we make it easier for the majority leader to get bills to the floor and how can we make it easier for the minority especially to be able to offer amendments? if we can do those o things, madam president, at the beginning of the year, i think the united states senate will begin to function much more effectively. it will be a better place to work. we'll get our job done in a better way. there will be less finger pointing and more results. there will be a change in behavior, which is what we really need instead of a change in rules. and it will inspire the confidence of the people of the united states about the kind of job we're doing. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor, and i suggest
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the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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is en mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: i ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cantwell: i rise to say what as important day it is for the u.s. coast guard. our communities who benefit from those services, the men and women who answer the call to
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serve. the reason i say that is because we have passed a bill that gives 40,000 active-duty coast guard members the support they need. it is a worthy tribute to a force of men and women that in 2000 alone helped us save over 3,800 lives across the u.s., confiscated over 166,000 pounds of cocaine and secured over 472 vessels before they arrived at our ports. this legislation will give the coast guard the funds that it needs to upgrade equipment and purchase the right vessels for carrying out every mission that they need. this kind of work exemplifies the heroes like chief petty officer terrell horn of california. officer horn died in the line of duty last week while tracing drug smugglers off the coast of california. our thoughts are with his family and friends. his actions and service remind us of the danger that the task of the men and women of the
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coast guard do on a daily basis. and that's why it was so important that we pass this reauthorization bill. we couldn't have done this reauthorization without the many hours that senator begich put in to help it get across the finish line. and he knows how important the coast guard is to the men and women of the pacific northwest and to my state of washington. the coast guard is part of our maritime culture in the pacific northwest and this bill helps the coast guard watch over our people and our businesses and protect our coastline. and in there, i'd like to offer or expound on three provisions that were particularly helpful for us in the northwest. one, this legislation helps protect the polar sea and ice breaker based in seattle. it helps clean up tsunami debris hitting the west coast and it analyzes the potential of a tar sands super tanker in our waters off of washington state. in october of this year, i
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visited vigor shipyards in seattle where our heavy-duty ice breaker fleet is serviced. these sheupts are a debt ceiling at that time -- sheupts -- ships of a testament to america's shipbuilding prowess. they are a critical tool for the united states, for our economic security and national security when it documents arctic. you see the ice breakers mean jobs to washington state and that's why in this final package the importance of these ships, these ice breakers, the polar sea was in danger of being scrapped. there is no denying that we need to build a new icebreaker fleet for the future and for our navy arctic mission. but these specialized vessels will take up to ten years to build. so in the meantime, we want to make sure that u.s. companies can continue to do business and keep the arctic operational and running, and so it's very fitting that the icebreakers that work fine now are not
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dismantled. so this legislation prevents them from being scrapped and helps us have the resources that we need to serve interests in the arctic. this bill stipulates that we won't junk our current icebreakers, and it's more cost-effective to keep them, and it will make sure that they stay seaworthy so that the crews don't go out on faulty equipment. these ships won't go away unless it can be proven that it makes financial sense to replace them. last january, the world watched as the healey icebreaker successfully cut through a path in the arctic sea to deliver fuel to nome, alaska. the healey is primarily a resource vessel but it was set up to do the job because our other icebreakers were not currently in active status. they were being repaired. so this bill ensures that the polar ice-breaking fleet will
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continue to be based in seattle and that refurbishing these icebreakers like the polar sea which roughly take about five years and the employ of 300 workers will continue to move forward. for us, this means ship-building jobs, it means an impact of keeping smaller shipyards in washington state busy, and it means keeping icebreakers that help save places like nome, alaska, and help us cut paths through the ice when needed. but that's not the only thing in this legislation i'm proud that we got a decision on. also, our economy in alaska, washington, oregon, california, hawaii has been threatened by hundreds of thousands of tons of debris washing ashore from the tragic tsunami in japan nearly two years ago. that's why this legislation asks noaa to take a closer look at the tsunami debris and make sure we are putting an accurate assessment and risk in place to protect the west coast. if they decide that it is a
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severe marine debris event, then they will need to present a specific coordination plan developed to meet that threat and work with local governments, counties and tribes and to make sure that there is a coordinated effort to protect our economy and environment from tsunami debris. we know in the northwest because we have already seen ships, we have seen bridges, we have seen various parts float ashore, oftentimes local communities having to share the burden and expense of cleaning up the tsunami debris. with over 165,000 jobs and nearly $11 billion in our coastal economy from fishing to tourism to various activities, we want to make sure that tsunami debris does not hurt our coastal economies. all you need to do is ask the mayor of long beach who said -- quote -- "an uncoordinated and unmanaged response to debris events is a blow to long beach
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and the columbia pacific region and we cannot endure." end quote. this is about getting a plan in place for local communities to coordinate, to have opportunities to work together and to remove debris as cost-effectively as possible. and third, mr. president, this legislation has important language protecting washington waterways in very precious parts of the pacific northwest. recently, canada announced that over the next decade they would double the protection -- i'm sorry. they would double the production of the alberta tar sands and oil fields. that could be 15 billion gallons of oil already shipped through washington waters and an increase. a spill in a heavily populated area or in the waters of the strait of wandafuga could cause billions of dollars of damage and harm businesses throughout the region. the response can't be even if
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the spill occurs in canadian waters don't worry, just call the americans. i'm proud that this legislation looks at the potential threat caused by super tankers and whether they are equipped to respond to the spill that would occur from corrosive tar sand oil. thanks to this legislation, the coast guard will have to prepare a study, analyze how much vessel traffic increase would be seen in the region due to tar sand increases and whether that movement of tar sand would require navigating through fragile waters and what an oil response plan capability in u.s. and canadian waters would be as a shared response. they need to identify the tools needed to clean up this kind of an oil spill and estimate the cost and benefits to the public of moving this oil through international waterways. this assessment has to be
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complete in 180 days. so, mr. president, i want to make sure our fishing fleet, our restaurants, our resort economy, everything that is so important to us in the northwest is protected. this legislation is good news for coastal communities, for jobs in washington state and across our country, and i'd like to thank both the chair and the ranking member of the subcommittee and full committee for making sure that we have given the coast guard the resources it needs to protect our economy, keep our public safe and protect our environment. we have much more work to do, but in a congress when we're down to our waning days of this congress, it's important that this legislation has passed and is on its way to the president's desk. i thank the president and i yield the floor. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: something special happened earlier today, and an
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important principle is being established in the senate. that principle is that we will adhere to the budget agreement that we made with the american people 16 months ago. in other words, we agreed in at least certain of our accounts to have a limit on spending. it's an increase every year over ten years increases but not as much as it was being increased, and we agreed that would be the limit and we would not spend more than that. we have had four consecutive bills brought to the floor of this senate, cavalierly, i would suggest, directly in violation of the spending limits that we agreed to just a little over a year ago. as a result, i or some other member of the senate has made a budget point of order. that budget point of order said that the legislation before us
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violates the budget, it spends too much and that we object. at that point, my democratic leadership each time moved to waive the budget, forget the budget, spend above the budget, don't worry about the budget, just spend the money because this is a good bill. it's got good proposals. anybody that opposes it is against these good proposals. waive the budget. and so we have now had four votes, and all four of those votes the senate has said no, we're not going to waive the budget. we're going to live within the agreement of spending we reached just last year. and there is no reason this bill that is before us couldn't have been brought in within the budget. and indeed, there has been no reason they shouldn't be within
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the budget. some went over the budget spending by not much, but we have to adhere to that principle. i have been very proud that members of this senate, sufficient numbers have said no. we're going to honor the promise we made to the american people, and we're going to do that, and we're not going to bust the budget. so i think it's sending a message, and the message needs to be received. so initially the spin in this body has been oh, senator sessions and his objectors don't want any good legislation to pass. they are just using the budget act to block it. but i think we're changing that now. i think the american people are going to see what's happened. we have had probably seven votes on the budget. the last four have been won. i think the american people are going to start asking why are
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you, senator, voting to waive the budget every single time? didn't you agree to certain spending limits? why did every time a bill came up you vote to spend more than you agreed to spend, spend more than you told us you were going to spend? i think that's what ought to be the message coming out of here, and i would just go a little further. if somebody wants to have legislation passed, don't blame the people who raised the budget point of order. blame yourself if you don't bring it to the floor in a paid-for way. it does not violate the budget. that's important. i think that's we should expect of anyone that wants to move legislation in the united states senate. if you wanted to get the vote and be passed and be sure you comply with the agreement that we made. and what agreement was that? if you're remember, 16 months
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ago in august, the debt limit had been reached, and it was put off and delayed, and we got to the very last. they reached this secret agreement. not publicly like it should have been, but we reached an agreement. it had at least some limits on spending. i didn't like the way it was done but it did propose certain limits. it exempted totally medicare, exempted food stamps. medicaid. it was totally exempted with many cuts, but other parts of the budget were controlled at those spending levels in the budget. and as a result, that was passed and the debt ceiling, the limit on the amount of money that can be borrowed by the united states government was raised $2.1 trillion, because we're now borrowing about 40 cents of
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every dollar that we spend, and we have a limit by the congress, as the constitution provides, on how much you can borrow, how much the president and executive branch of the united states government can borrow. and we reached that limit and spending was going to drop 40%, maybe right across the board, perhaps. and so we raised it so we could continue to borrow, but the promise was that over ten years years -- that over ten years, the level of spending would be reduced by that amount. so we raise the debt limit $2.1 trillion, spending was promised to be reduced over the next ten years by $10 trillion. now we have already spent that $2.1 trillion. i hate to tell you, but by january, february, we're going to be right back into this body dealing with the question will
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we hit the debt limit again? this year, it looks like we'll have another deficit well over a trillion dollars, and in fact the first two months of this calendar year, we're extraordinarily bad. almost $300 billion in debt in the first two years. at this rate, the deficit will be the largest ever in the history of the republic. so something needs to be done about that. we did make that change, and for us to go back on that and not follow the budget agreement before the ink is dry on it, before one year is gone, we're bringing up bills that violate that amendment. if we were to continue in that path, the american people would have a right to have no confidence in us and to wonder what it is. you promised us you were going to reduce the growth of spending. as soon as the shoe starts
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getting a little tight and it starts squeezing, you cut and run, senators. so so far, we have -- at least in recent weeks, we have been doing rather well on this path of saying we will adhere to the budget agreement. we have had i think on each one of the votes some democratic support, one, but mostly the republicans have been the ones that have held to the budget, and we have had one or two democrats vote with us i think on each one of those votes. now, why -- and where are we today? we're talking about the fiscal cliff. the president campaigned around this country, and he said i have got a balanced plan, and that balanced plan is going to have so much in spending cuts and so much in tax increases, it needs to be balanced, and you republicans, we have got to have more tax increases, our country needs to get itself on a sound financial path, and i have got a
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deficit reduction plan. and he ran an ad, he ran an ad in the last months of this campaign that said i have a plan to pay down the debt. earlier this year his budget director came before the committee and would not disavow the claim the president has a plan to pay down the debt. and i would just say that that is one of the greatest financial misrepresentations ever, that the president of the united states would tell the american people don't worry, elect me, i've got a plan to pay down the debt. when he has no such plan. nothing close to it. under the score of the congressional budget office, over the next ten years we will add almost $9 trillion -- we will add $9 trillion in debt of
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the united states. add 9 trillion more dollars. that's almost a trillion dollars a year for ten years on average. it goes down some in the mid years, but in years six, seven, eight, nine, and ten the deficits are going up every year. they'll average almost a trillion dollars a year. so that's what i thought the president was talking about, and i think the american people felt he was talking about when he said i want a plan that will pay down the debt and i'm going to raise taxes and we're going to pay down the debt. and we'll have spending cuts also. well, what is it that we now know about that plan? this is the essence of it that secretary geithner, the secretary of the treasury, met with i guess speaker boehner and this is an outline of the president's deficit reduction plan. this is what they are proposing to do.
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it started off a few weeks ago at $1.6 trillion in new taxes, now we're talking about $1.4 trillion, i understand. that's the latest iteration of the tax increases. 1,400 billion dollars in tax increases. well, where will that money go? and will it change the debt course of america? will it put us on a sound path? can we go home at night and say wow, i'm glad they finally got their act together and put this business on the road? well, let's examine what they're proposing. they're proposing to spend above the b.c.a., the budget control act limits that i just talked about. they have certain limits, includes the sequester. those limits are in law. the law will have to be changed and if a president propose to change the law, and to
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eliminate 12 hundreds billion cuts. that's 60% of the cuts that were agreed to when we raised the debt ceiling $2.1 trillion. wipe out 60% of them, just like that. that is new spending above the law in effect today, eliminating the caps that i just mentioned. in addition to that, he has no funds to pay for the doc fix. we call it the doc fix but the physicians are being -- if we don't fix this, they will have a 25% or so cut in their reimbursement rates for doing medicare work. and many of them, it's half of the work that they do. $400 billion, no money for that. that will be added to the debt
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in scores. the social security holiday, that will have to be spent, the social security contribution holiday, you don't pay as much in to social security as you did, the u.s. treasury has to borrow that money and put it in the social security trust fund because people aren't paying off their withholding check. so that's another $110 billion. they want to spend $50 billion more on transportation issues and $30 billion on unemployment insurance extension. totaling $1,790 in new spending. does it have any reduction in spending? yes. they're talking about $400 billion in mandatory spending. most of that apparently would be reducing maybe 300 of it, payments to providers in medicare, medicaid, providers -- that's your doctor and your hospital, cut them
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some more. we've already -- they've already cut deeply when obamacare was passed. whether that would ever stick or not, i have my doubts. so that would say that the new spending is $1,390,000,000,000, $1.39 trillion. and the tax is 1400 billion dollars. so we're on a path under the baseline of the budget control act of increasing the debt $9 trillion. under the president's plan whereby he raises taxes $1.4 trillion, we would have added to the debt 8,990 billion dollars. what does this mean? it means we're going to have a major tax increase and new
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spending, no net cut in spending, but a major new increase in spending of $1.39 trillion. now, that's a fact. and it's a very troubling fact. and i'd add one more thing -- i see my colleague is here -- i believe the president of the united states should not lull the american people into believing that somehow he's got a plan that's going to pay down our debt. or get us on a sound financial course. he has one goal, it seems to me: to raise taxes and raise spending. that's exactly what this plan places -- does.
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it has no reform on medicare, social security, or medicaid, or food stamps, some of the fastest growing entitlement programs that we have, big ones. no plans to fix any of that. in any serious way. refuses to talk about that. saying anybody that talks about that just doesn't like old people and doesn't care about america. we need some leadership. we need some honesty. we need a president of the united states who will look the american people in the eye and explain to them that we are living beyond our means. we do not have the money to continue to borrow 40 cents of every dollar that we spend. we cannot continue on this path as expert after expert has told us. so i would just say i'm proud
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that again today this senate, at least a good solid minority stood firm, i think 44, and said no, we're not going to waive the budget, we're going to stand by the limits on spending that were part of the budget control act. but i'm not pleased that this whole process that's going on with speaker boehner right now and the president is, it looks like it's not likely to lead to any changes in our debt course. even after raising taxes, if the president had his way, $1.4 trillion will still be on basically the same debt course. how could we allow this opportunity to get away from us? going to raise taxes big time and still not going to use any of it in effect to pay down debt and reduce -- look, not pay down debt. there's no plan in the remotest
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future we would ever pay down our debt. the question is will we reduce the annual deficits that will average almost a trillion dollars a year for the next ten years and get worse in the outer years. we've got to deal with that. there's no escape to it, there's no way you can get around it. any mature person who loves this country knows we've got to confront it and it can't just be done by raising taxes. we're going to have to reduce spending in this country. it's not going to hammer the economy, we don't have to throw people in the streets, but we need a sustained effort to reduce the growth in spending in this country. and if we just do that, we'd surprise ourselves that we could get on a sound course before too many years. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota.
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mr. franken: thank you, mr. president. i came here to the floor to talk about medicare. my esteemed colleague from alabama just talked about medicare reform. you and i -- we all, all of us pay in to medicare every month, and so we are entitled to medicare benefits when we reach age 65. the fact that we are entitled to these benefits is not a bad thing. in fact, it's a very good thing foe so many millions of america's seniors, and the fact that many call it an entitlement only means that we have a right to expect to get the benefits we paid in for. entitlements in this case should not be a pejorative.
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we've heard a lot about entitlement programs recently and about the place of medicare in the conversation, about our federal deficit. we just heard the senator from alabama talk about that. and he said -- there was no discussion of reform of medicare. but sometimes in these discussions, sometimes i think a critical component is missing which is that we already reformed medicare, and these reforms extended the life of medicare by eight years. while expanding benefits for seniors. during the recent campaign, as the presiding officer has pointed out, we saw a lot of ads about the so-called $716
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billion in cuts to medicare and how terrible that was, is, and will be. well, i'd really like to take just a few minutes to explain what these savings are, what they were and what they are and what they will be. the two biggest sources of the $716 billion were one, ending the overcharging that insurance companies overcharged the government for medicare advantage, and the second is savings in payments to hospitals. first, medicare advantage. now, as the presiding officer knows, as people watching no
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doubt know, that seniors can choose to get their medicare benefits directly from the medicare program or to get them through a private insurance program that gets paid by medicare, which is called medicare advantage. well, before we passed the affordable care act, we were overpaying those private insurers by 14%. these insurers were getting much more than they should have based on the benefits they were providing to seniors. so we cut. what medicare gives to these private insurance companies. that was -- over the next ten years, we are going to cut these insurance payments by 14%. which c.b.o. scored in 2010 as
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saving medicare $136 billion over ten years. and we were told by some of our colleagues that insurance companies were going to leave the market, that we weren't going to have medicare advantage anymore. well, so far enrollment in medicare advantage has gone up by 11%. so this is many, many billions of dollars that we were able to take instead of overpaying insurance companies, that we were able to take it and extend the life of medicare. now, second is the lower reimbursements to hospitals. now, why does this work out for hospitals? well, when you insure 31 million
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more people, when those 31 million people go to the emergency room, go to the hospital, the hospital is no longer on line to pay for that. they're not left holding the bag. when those -- those 31 million people now have insurance that pays for it. so the hospitals are now able to take lower reimbursements for medicare patients. that's why it works out for them. so when people talk about the $716 billion, this is a huge part of what they're talking about. it's not cuts to benefits, it's not shifting costs to seniors; it's streamlining the program and making it more efficient. we took these savings and we
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reinvested the money in the program which overall extended the life of medicare by eight years. that is entitlement reform. extending the life of the program. that's what we're talking about when we talk about reforming medicare. and that is what we did. and not only that but we actually expanded benefits for seniors. now, i go to a lot of senior centers around minnesota, nursing homes, and i got to tell you, the seniors are very happy that we extended -- expanded their benefits. they're happy about the new free preventive care that they get. wellness checkups,
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colonoscopies, mammograms. they know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. this saves us all -- all money and keeps people healthier. and what else we're doing with this money in terms -- in addition to, you know, expanding the solvency by eight years? we're closing the doughnut hole, the prescription drug doughnut hole. and i have to tell you, seniors are very happy about that, too. for more than -- more than one-third of seniors, for them, social security provides more than 90% of their income. for one-quarter of elderly beneficiaries, social security is the sole source of retirement income.
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so when they hit their doughnut hole, that is serious. and sometimes they have to make choices between food and heat and medicine. and because we're closing the doughnut hole, in many cases people don't have to make that choice anymore. this is important stuff. when i was running for the senate, a nurse who worked in cambridge, minnesota, a town north of the twin cities, she came to me and she told me that in the hospital she worked in, very often they would admit a senior who was very sick and the
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doctors would treat this senior and get them back on their feet and send them out, send them home with their prescriptions. and as this started, they would call the drugstore, the pharmacy a few days later, a week later, and say, "is mrs. johnson, has she filled these prescriptions?" and the pharmacist would say, "no." because she was in her doughnut hole. well, a couple weeks later, mrs. johnson would be back in the hospital. how wasteful is that? how -- why? why is that -- that costs a tremendous amount of money to
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our system. this is saving money. this is health care reform. this is medicare reform. it's improving people's health and saving money at the same time. so we have increased benefits, we've extended the life of medicare. that was done as part of health care reform. that is medicare reform. now, in the election, we had a discussion about this. there were a lot of ads about it. we know what governor romney would have done to medicare. he said very explicitly that -- and, again, the presiding officer has quoted this. he said very explicitly he would restore those billions and billions of dollars in overpayments to private insurance companies for no
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reason, for no good effect, just so that i guess these insurance companies could have more profit. instead, we reinvested this money into medicare. but he would have given it to the insurance companies. he would have replaced the health care law, which would have made the eight years that we extended medicare just vanish. governor romney supported raising the medicare eligibility age. but if we raise the age from 65 to 67, as he suggested, that means that millions -- hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of seniors would no longer have access to medicare, would end up receiving federal subsidies in
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the exchanges and some of them would go to medicaid. and they would be, these 65 to 67-year-olds would be by definition older and as a population sicker than the other people in the exchanges and in medicaid. so they would make both of the programs more expensive. they'd also make medicare more expensive because they would be the youngest and least sick to be taken out. so although this sounds like a reasonable compromise, trust me, it is a bad idea. it would cost the health care system twice as much as it would
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save medicare. this is exactly the kind of bad idea that explains why we pay twice as much as other developed countries around the world for our health care, and in many, if not all -- most cases, with worse outcomes. medicare reform was an issue in the campaign because we already did it. we extended the program by eight years. and it's not like it was a secret. it was part of the conversation during the election. and in the election, the american people voted to keep those reforms. so as we continue this conversation about our fiscal future, i would love to hear from my colleagues across the aisle about how they would
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reform medicare, how they would expand its life by eight years while expanding or at least -- at the very least not cutting benefits. how would they do it? because we extended its life for eight years and increased benefits, very meaningful benefits. and i would ask my colleagues why, before the election -- and this is the very point that the presiding officer from vermont made just a few days ago on this floor -- why they were attacking us, incorrectly, i might add, inaccurately for making cuts in medicare but since the election they've been insisting we make cuts to medicare?
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so going forward, i just think we need to move from talking points to taking a thoughtful look at policy and working together to tackle our nation's fiscal challenges and do it based on a little bit deeper look at what we've done and what the health care reform that we -- that we passed here in the senate and the house and is now law of the land what that does. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the floor. mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: mr. president, with the close of the 112th
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congress, the senate will lose its most determined champion of fiscal prudence and balance, senator kent conrad of north dakota. senator conrad is best known nationally for his leadership as chairman of the committee on the budget. now, again, that committee has limited legislative power but that didn't stop senator conrad from using that committee relentlessly for fiscal restraint. for honest budgeting. as we all know, he has spent countless hours here on the floor educating, exhorting senators on budget issues, driving home his points by displaying a seemingly endless array of charts and graphs. indeed, i would note that in 2001, the committee on rules and administration assigned senator conrad his own printing equipment because he was producing more charts than all
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of his colleagues combined. the other day we had this so-called secret santa that senator franken had established here in which we draw names out of a hat and we exchange these little -- little gifts here. and you never know who's going to give you a gift. you know who you're giving to but you don't know who's giving to you. well, it turned out that my gift giver was senator conrad. so i got a nice little -- a bo book, but most importantly, i got three charts. [laughter] and they were -- they were charts from the 2008 farm bill that we both worked on and which i was chairman of at that time. and i just thought that was a great gift, both to get some of his charts but the charts pertaining to a major piece of legislation that both he and i had worked very closely on because we've been longtime colleagues on the committee on agriculture, nutrition and forestry. he joined that committee as a
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freshman senator in 1987, just two years after i got here in 1985, and we were in the midst of the worst economic crisis in the farm sector since the great depression. and senator conrad left a major imprint on the agricultural credit act of 1987, advocating strongly for measures to help farm families and rural communities persevere through circumstances beyond their control, to preserve a family farm system of agriculture as well as to preserve small towns and the fabric of rural america. over the years, senator conrad has been a key advocate, enacting major drought relief bills and other disaster assistance. and he has consistently fought for effective programs to protect and enhance farm income through the farm commodity programs and crop insurance. for many years, we have been allies in advancing farm bill
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initiatives, to promote renewable energy production on farms and in rural communities. and let no one doubt that senator conrad has always been a relentless, fierce advocate for the interests of his constituents in north dakota. i know that kent is very proud of a framed resolution presented to him by his state's standing rock sioux tribe. it bears his honorary sioux na name, nomni snee," which translates as "never turns back." i think that really describes kent conrad. he never turns back. so, mr. president, kent conrad and i are proud of our shared roots in the upper midwest. he has been an outstanding senator, a good friend for more than 2 1/2 decades in this body. i join with the entire senate family in wishing kent and lucy all the best in the years ahead.
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mr. harkin: and also, mr. president, in these closing weeks of the 112th congress, the senate is, as i've said, is saying farewell to a number of retiring colleagues. one of our most poignant farewells is to a member respected and esteemed on both sides of the aisle. i speak of senator dick lugar of indiana. he he is a friend, a fellow midwesterner, but to all of us, he is much more. dick lugar is really a nor's senator. he epitomizes the very best of this institution, and it is a sad commentary on the state of our nation's politics that the main reason why senator lugar is leaving the senate is because his primary opponent attacked him for the very qualities we admire and need here: his readiness to forge fair and honorable compromises, his insistence on putting country ahead of party or ideology, his
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enormous decency and civility. as we all know, senator lugar has been the senate's most passion national and effective advocate of arms control. the program he created with senator sam nunn has assisted russia and other countries of the former soviet union to secure and dispose of their weapons of mass destruction. what an amazing accomplishment by senator lugar. i also want to salute senator lugar's record of principled, conscientious leadership on the committee of agriculture, and forestry, including from 1995 to 2001. he is a key author of landmark measures strengthening federal agricultural conservation policies and programs, particularly in the 1985 farm bill and succeeding farm bills. he has been instrumental in
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strengthening and in fighting at critical junctures to maintain federal nutrition assistance including school lunch and breakfast and other child nutrition programs through his support for food banks and other emergency food assistance. dick lugar has also been an outstanding leader in research, development, and marketing farm and forest commodities by converting them to energy and biobased products. for me it has been a great honor to be senator lugar's friend and colleague for 36 years and to serve all that time with him on the agriculture committee. our friendship, of course, will continue. but i will miss and we will all miss senator lugar's calm, positive, always constructive influence on this body. across 36 years of distinguished
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service, this senator and statesman has faithfully served the people of indiana and the united states, and there's no doubt that he will pursue new avenues of public service in retirement. so i will miss his day-to-day friendship and his counsel here in the senate, and i wish dick and his wonderful wife char all the best in the years ahead. finally for today, mr. president, we're bidding farewell to one of our most respected and beloved members, senator daniel akaka of hawaii, or as we all know him, as "danny." with his retirement, our friend is bringing to a close a remarkable and distinguished career spanning nearly seven decades. having witnessed as a 17-year-old boy the japanese tac on pearl harbor, he took a civilian job with the army corps of engineers before joining the united states army in 1945.
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we honor him along with his senior colleague from hawaii, senator inouye, and senator lautenberg as the only veterans of world war ii still serving in the snavmen senate. not pricingly, senator akaka has been a leader on veterans' issues. he served as chairman of the committee on veterans' affairs and he remained being a any of that committee since relinquis relinquishing that chair in order to chair the committee on indian affairs. we will not soon forget senator akaka's retort when another senator was holding up a packages of veterans' benefits, demanding that the costs of the veterans' benefits be offset. senator akaka calmly, very deliberately argued that the costs did not need an offset because -- quote -- "the price has already been paid many times
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over by the service of the brave men and women who wore our nation's uniform." needless to say, senator akaka carried the day. senator akaka has played a leading role in demanding improvements in the handling of post-traumatic stress disorder and dra traumatic brain injuries success staininged. he joined with senator inouye in securing compensation for filipino veterans of world war ii who fought for the united states. senator akaka is the only ethnic native hawaiian to serve in this body. throughout his congressional career, including four years in the house and 22 years in the senate, he has been a determined and passionate advocate for his people of hawaii. he has fought for legislation that would grant federal recognition to ethnic native hawaii warninghawaiians. in 1993, president clinton signed a resolution sponsored by
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senator akaka officially apologizing on behalf of the united states government for overthrowing hawaii's last monarch a century earlier. mr. president, in so many ways senator akaka represents the senate at its very best, the way it used to be in less partisan times. he worked tirelessly behind the scenes, he shuns the media limelight, he prides himself on reaching across the aisle and forging honorable compromises. he is the ultimate gentleman and his word is his bond. mr. president, across the many years, danny akaka has been a wonderful friend and colleague, and of course that friendship will continue. i will miss him here in the senate. i join with the entire senate family in wishing danny and millie all the best in the years ahead. with that, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the. mr. reid: is recognized. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum is terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to a period of morning business, senators allowed to speak for up to ten minutes each.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i now ask unanimous consent that on monday, december 17, at 5:00 p.m., the senate proceed to executive session to consider nominations on calendar number 833 and 875, that there be 30 minutes for debate equally divided in the usual form, that upon the use or yielding back of that time, the senate proceed with no intervening action or debate to vote on calendar number 833 and 875 in that order. the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid on the table, there being no intervening action or debate, that no further motion be in order, that any related statements be printed in the record an that president obama be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the judicial committee be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 6116. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 6116, an act to amend the revised organic act of the virgin islands, and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without
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objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the bill be read a third time, passed, the motion to reconsider be considered -- i'm sorry. the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, there being no intervening action or debate and that any statements related to this matter be placed in the record at the appropriate place as if read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the veterans affairs committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 2045. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 2045, a bill to amend title 38 united states code, and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the burr amendment which is at the desk be agreed to, the bill as amended be read three times, passed, the motion to reconsider be made and laid on the table, there being no intervening action or debate, that any statements relating to this matter appear in the record at the appropriate place as if
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read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to s. res. 616. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 616, to authorize the production of records by the permanent subcommittee on investigations of the committee on homeland security and governmental affairs. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid on the table. there being no intervening action or debate and any statements relating to this matter be placed in the record at the appropriate place. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that from thursday, december 13, through monday, december 17, the majority leader be authorized to sign duly enrolled bills or joint resolutions. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 2:00 p.m. monday, december 17, that following the prayer and pledge, the prurnl of proceedings be approved to date, the morning business be deemed
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expired, the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day. following that morning business, mr. president, the senate be in a period of morning business until 3:00 p.m., senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each and that following morning business the senate begin consideration of h.r. 1, the legislative vehicle for the emergency supplemental appropriations bill. i would also say, mr. president, we're going to have an amendment process there. people should be able to offer amendments. i hope we'll finish the bill very quickly if people have amendments -- people that have amendments should visit with the two managers of the bill. i assume the managers will be senator leahy and senator cochran. finally, at 5:00 p.m., the senate proceed to executive session for the -- under the previous order. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: on monday then, mr. president, we'll begin consideration of the supplemental appropriation bill. there will be a 5:30 vote on confirmation of the nomination. if there is no further business to come before the senate, ski that we adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the the presiding officer: the
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>> the u.s. ambassador to the united nations, susan rice, withdrew consideration to be secretary of state in president obama's second term. a group of republican senators said they would oppose her if
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nominated because of the comment made on the attack on the u.s. consulate in libya. she said it was, quote, spontaneously reaction to an anti-islam video. in a letter withdrawing consideration, see san said, quote, if nominated, i'm convinced the confirmation process would be lengthy and costly to you and our most pressing priorities. read the entire letter to the on c-span.org. more on that attack in benghazi next week. secretary of state, hillary clinton, testified before the house florida affairs committee. we'll have that live on the c-span networks and c-span.org. here's a look at the prime time programming across the c-span networks.
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>> i've been on that bus. they are just as good as gold. >> all of us, i think, in the country were starting to people coming out and talking about their experience, this phenomena, that so many of us experienced in one way or another and had no words for other than adolescence, other than growing up. we're finally, people were starting to stand back and say, hold on, this is not a normal part of growing up. this is not a right of passage.
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there was a moment where there's a possibility for change, and director lee and i decided to start the film out of that feeling that voices were bubbling up, coming up to the surface to say that this is not something we can accept anymore as a normal part of the culture. >> the filmmaker lowen gathered essays and perm stories together in "bully," and hear more saturday night at 10 on "afterwords" and more booktv on line, and like us on facebook. the u.s. chamber of commerce tuesday hosted an event looking at the fiscal challenges facing the nation including the negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff. former comptroller general david walker and former budget officer took a look at the prospects for a grand bargain.
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this just over an hour. >> you get my panel up here, going to make a few introductory remarks while they are hooking you all up. okay, today, three issues very briefly. one is the fiscal cliff, two is the debt ceiling, and, three, is the big deal that has to be on the debt and deficit. unfortunately, those issues get von -- convuluded, especially in this town. the fiscal cliff is an artificial date. congress came in, says this law expires on this date. they extended it, expires, put in the sequestering, saying it expires on this date. it is a date. all they have to do is extend the date and allow themselves the time to discuss the issues, and instead, they cram the issues in a lame duck session
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and letting congress that got unlighted decisions that should be made by the people who should be making the decisions. that's a problem. the fiscal cliff can have real consequences. cbo came out and said that it would cause recession if we go off the fiscal cliff. i don't dispute that, but i do point out the fact that in 1993 when the taxes were already put in, many said they would cause a recession. they did not. the economy is improving on its own right now, and getting somewhat stronger so the impact of the fiscal cliff, while not something to be encouraged, may not be as bad as many had thought, and, certainly, it is not worth making bad policy that will have m r much longer range --
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will have much longer range implications. the second issue, another kind of artificial date has been in law for decades, and congress periodically as a part of debate over whether to extend it. it's app interesting debate. there really is no option. you either extend it or you default. default really shouldn't be an option, and it's something that should be avoided at all costs. we put this quick little date in there so that we can have the debate, have a vote, and then extend the debt ceiling as we know we have to. that's fine we have the issue of the debt and deficit in the long run. the issues of real importance because, one, we don't account for our expenditures the way businesses do, the way individuals have to. we get toking the for -- to account for them and ignore many of the long term
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implications, and if we put them in, it increases the amount of debt that we owe and have promised dray mat -- dramatically. also on the big deal, we know there has to be taxes, revenues, and expendtures, all have to be on the table. we can't do it with any one of them so we need to look for a comprehensive approach that includes all of these, and doing that takes some time. what we do in the short run on the fiscal cliff may impact our ability to achieve the greater goal and get some real fundamental improvement in the debt and deficit situation. tax increases that occur now will probably not be debated again in the context of fundamental comprehensive tax reform. it will make it harder to do
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that and to achieve that. i think as we go through the three problems, we have to recognize that, one, there's a very short run problem with an artificial deadline. two, it's something we debated many, many times in the past, and probably should be fundamentally changed. if we raise the debt ceiling, we ought to do it prospectively in the budget, but then we have not had a budget for quite a while. finally, the big issue is how much request we spend and how much do we have to tax going forward over the next few decades in order to keep our fiscal accounts in balance and to move them in the right direction so that we don't become greece? it's interesting that we talk about the previous panel talk about state government, and one of the big problems in europe is that there is no fiscal coordination among the independent countries, and
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somewhat to our state, and who has to come along and bail them out when they have not done what they are supposed to do. i don't know that we're all that much different so we have a great panel. people that are far smarter than i am, and i'm going to introduce them all, and ask questions, and i'll ask the pam to keep answers relatively short so we can get through a lot of questions, and still get out of here on time. first of all, we have ali son frasier, director of thomas a. rowe institute for economic studies at the heritage foundation. director -- as director, she oversees the heritage foundation research on a wide range of domestic, economic issues incoming federal spending, taxes, the debt, and the deficit.
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before joining heritage in 2003, she was deputy director of the oklahoma office of state finance where she worked for governor frank keating. next on the panel, we have the institute fellow and the rj and francis miller chair in public policy at the urban institute. prior to that in his long and distinguished career, he was the director of the congressional budget office where he supervised a young anonymous who did not learn a lot from him, and that's why he did not have the distinguished career he had. i remember those conversations, and i hope i can do them justice today. he also served as deputy assistant secretary of economic affairs at hud and a senior staff economist at the economic advisers. finally, last but not least, we
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have david walker, founder and ceo of comeback america initiative. david's formally the comptroller general of the united states. he was also the director above the u.s. government accountability office for almost ten years. he is widely read and authored numerous articles on the debt and deficit, and he has a new addition out there now that makes tremendous sense and obscurity in this town where things that make sense don't always get discussed. the new group is looking at the efficiencies, the inefficiencies, the duplications in the government to try and find areas where we can save money.
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with that introduction, we'll discuss some of these issues. now, first of all -- [inaudible] the fiscal cliff -- what to do in the long run -- three four minutes each how we should be looking at these issues. i'll start with david on the far side and just move right across. >> thanks for coming. first, there are exon denominators between the federal, state, and local levels. some of the common denominators are inadequate budget controls, escalating health care costs, huge unfunded and to a great
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extent off balance sheet, retirement obligations, and outdated tax systems. other factors are relevant like demographics, plus or minus to the infrastructure, state of infrastructure, ect.. with regard to the federal government, there's a loot lsh lot of attention on the so-called fiscal cliff, we know what that relates to, the scheduled exploration of tax cuts, scheduled spending cuts, and a variety of other provisions. that's really the symptom, not the disease, and like washington, it's all typically does is focus on symptoms rather than disease, and we need to avoid the fiscal cliff, but we need to recognize reality that there's only so much that can be done in the remaining year. we have to do an incredible down payment, build a bridge to a grand bargain, building on reforms that have to be achieved. in position of budget controls, had budget controls until 2002,
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expired in the end of 2002, and been out of control ever seasons. it takes time, and it has to involve extraordinary potential leadership, which we have not had in quite a while, and hopefully we'll get, and frankly, it was terrible on the issues as well, and it's going to involve some type of citizen engagement effort to be able to demonstrate people are willing, ready, and able to handle the tough choices, and it's going to take, obviously, the committee doing their job in private negotiations. the good news in that regard is i recently undertook a 10,000-mile, 23-day, 27-state
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national fiscal responsibility bus tour around focusing on swing states, and a representative group of voters after they heard the case about where we are. number one, 97% believe that putting our finances in order should be a top priority. number two, 92% believe on six fundamental principles and values exposed to them for the grand bargain. number three, 85 #% agree it's going to take a combination of spending reductions, revenues, and number four, at least 77% up to 90% agree on a range of reforms on budget controls, social insurance programs, defense, taxes, business redporms, and political reforms needed in order to put us a prudent and sustainable path. bottom line is people have the politicians, discussed with a lack of progress, not resulting
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without rhetoric, and i was in town for private meetings, and private meetings on the hill and white house, and hopefully sanity prevails, and it will do something reasonable in the short term and build a bridge to something that's transformative next year, and because in the final animal sises as dave knows, we're in the same boat, share commonties, have to work together to solve the problems to create a better future. >> thank you. >> first thing is i have no idea what's going to happen with the fiscal cliff, and i have uneasy feeling that president obama and speaker boehner don't know either. it's a huge possible fiscal shock. it would be one the biggest fiscal shocks we've had since world war ii, and the only thing that's comparable is the vietnam
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surtax applied after military spending was already falling. falling off the cliff means recession. i think it could be much worse than the cbo implies for two reasons. one, the economy is very fragile and vulnerable, and, secondly, it has a horrible psychological impact on the business community, consumers, who, with some justification, would totally lose confidence in our government's ain't to -- ability to dporch. -- govern. i agree very much with david what we need right now is a kind of down payment, making some progress, a down payment that probably involves the cuts on the spending side, and the pledged too -- to do much more later. the important thing to know about the proposals on the
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street right now is you can accept everything in the president's proposal,, accept everything speaker boehner's proposed, and you would not solve the budget problem for the longer run. in my judgment, you need twice what they have put on the table. i'm very troubled by the fact that we are gives the impression that we can solve this problem without imposing pain on the middle class. the president made that explicit, promising to never, ever raise taxes on the middle class, and, of course, the republicans would back him up on that, but there's no way charismatically you can solve the problem without everyone feeling something, and that certainly has to involve the middle class because that's where all the money is. as for david's point about
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building a bridge to the bigger solution that i envision, i think we certainly have to. i'm not clear how we do that. how do we pressure congress into returning to the issue presuming we avoid the cliff right away, and that's very hard i think. we passed the sequester and thought, surely, the super committee would have thought toely irrational, and because, well, they wouldn't avoid it, and they needed something more reasonable, but, of course, they didn't, and that's what left us where we are today, and it means that at this trigger does not work, what does work? i'm pessimistic we can think of any action forcing the mechanism. >> rudy, thank you.
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>> thank you, delighted to be here today. i want to talk about four basic themes for you to think about. first one is that the discussion we're having today is really not about the miss cam cliff at all, and as david pointed out, the fiscal cliff is more than the massive tax increases and the spending cuts. it's also about a number of other things including an extended unemployment benefits and the dock fix and so -- doc fix and so forth. there's a number of things that really need to be addressed, but as i think, this discussion is not about the fiscal cliff per se because if congress and president come together quickly and pass a bill very easy that puts off of the fiscal cliff, either in large period of time or indefinitely. it really is about making a down payment as both rudy and david have said on closing deficits in the future, but i would say it's also really about the
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president's campaign, not just in the past election, but the first -- his first election to hike taxes on the successful. that's really what this boils down to. i think we absolutely have to see some real leadership, though, on the more longer term budget unsustainable issues. what we don't need is campaigning. what we don't need is negotiating in the political theater. when we see that stop, then, perhaps, we'll know we're going to be serious about whether we're going to resolve the fiscal cliff and whether we'll have a large down paimed. when it comes to republicans and conservatives, i think there's three things to bear in mind that are important. one of which are the house republicans were legislated in essence opposite for what the president was elected or one of the things he was elected for, and that is he was elected to cut spending and not raise taxes. the attention playing itself out with regards to the fiscal cliff k one of the reasons it's so
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hard to move forward. the second thing is there are a number of revenues that would be acceptable to conservatives, and the first one is one that speaker boehner put out immediately after the election which is revenues through a stronger economy, through fundamental pro-growth tax reform. seemingly, that's off the table. this is a very acceptable, new source of revenue to conservatives. also acceptable would be ways to reduce subsidies. you'd see more premiums, medicare, more premiums for example, for things like flood insurance and other plans and so forth. acceptable types of revenues to cop servetives that are not getting a lot of discussion or substantive discussion. also acceptable revenues are prieftizing, and we talked about public-private partnership in transportation, in infrastructure, and there's also all kinds of ways that we could undertake a program of
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privatizing and shedding of services that would generate revenues to the federal government that would be absolutely acceptable to conservatives. in addition, we could open up access to energy sources and generate revenues that way. the key here for conservatives is those new revenues not to be used for more spending and that they really be used to reduce the deficit. now, how we would lock that in when a past experiment have been rather a failure, i don't have the solution to, but it is important to note as there are absolutely revenues that are acceptable to conservatives. that leads me to the third point which is our long term issue explained are long term concerns are an issue. to the extempt there's tax revenues low today, it's not because of the rate.
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it's because the economy is under performing, and the economy is quite weak right now. we should see much stronger growth, and we should see employment rates much lower. we want to see policies put in place that strength b the economy and also -- strengthen the economy and also attack the longer term spending issue we have driven primarily through entitlements. when it comes to those, there's a number of broad bipartisan supported policy recommendations that are easy available, should the president and speaker boehner and others want to come together to get serious about making a down payment on our fiscal future. that leads me to the fourth issue which is it is possible to solve this without raising taxes, and i know this because at the harming foundation, we have done this, part of the project by the peterson foundation. put together o long term plan. i had it right here, shameless
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promotion, i know, but we balanced the budget in less than ten years without raising taxes. it is a choice, maybe a political choice, but it's not app economic choice. even warren buffet, who has been a tireless champion of raising taxes on the wealthy to make sure they pay their fair share, whatever that is, would not raise revenues, historical revenues over 18.5 mcof gd -- 18.5% of gdp. if you get more revenues, how do they not go into spending, and why talk taxes when we have a spending problem? that's what i offer up as a rich and robust conversation. >> thank you very much. we got a lot of different kind of cross currents going on here. i think it's interesting that, you know, when you look at the urgency for getting something done, it's really artificial and
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conjectural. we have a date that congress put out there, and that's what we have to act by because we don't, we go off a cliff. we don't really go off the cliff, but off the fly. i'm not suggesting by any stretch we ought to do that, but i'm suggesting there's hyperbole op both sides saying, oh, we have to act now. they say this as a time that shouldn't be wasted, a crisis that shouldn't be wasted. i'm afraid in rushing to judgment over an art official date, that -- artificial date that the policies get short stripped, and i'm not suggesting to go off the cliff. i do not think that's good policies, but the artificial dates we put in never produced good results. as rudy eluded to, there was a date on sequestering in order to create something so draconian it would never happen, and now we have to deal with it. back in the financial crisis, we put in a t.a.r.p. program that
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some people cost $700 billion to track and pay back most of the t.a.r.p., and, oh, by the way, reports that aig is now going to unwind its federal relationship to the tune of about an $18 billion profit to the federal government, something that many people, incoming yours truly, was very, very skeptical would ever occur. with the artificial dates and creating this urgency, we give the policy short thrift. all of the speakers alluded to the fact that we ought to have a down payment, a grace into the future. i think that's a recognition, and you can comment on this, that we are probably not going to get a big deal in the very near future. we know the pieces, the negotiation, the like, might take longer. if there's something out there that we're missing that we should do or could do to ensure
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whatever we decide to do in this very timely period doesn't go to waste or get lost in the shuffle down the road. i'll run it through again, but david first. something we're missing that we should do that we could do to hold people's -- >> i think what we ought to do is talk about what might be realistic, okay? given the clock is taking, there's not a whole lot of time left. you know, fist, you have to look at what's set to expire. you have to separate the weak from the chap from those that should be allowed to expire and things that shouldn't. i respectfully suggest that the payroll tax cut should be allowed to expire. it's $127 billion. it's not needed in this point in time. it's a want, not a need. in addition to that, as a former trustee in social security and medicarings it's a horrible precedent for social security.
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secly, clearly, you don't want all the sequester to take place with regards to defense and discretionary. allow some of it to take place. you know, we got to -- we got to get rid -- we have to patch it before comprehensive tax reform, something pending more fundamental health care reforks. the president talks about balance. i don't expect to suggest that's the wrong term, but we need a comprehensive solution, a balanced solution because balance is why 50/50, i'm is libra -- [laughter] 50/50 with regards to spending and taxing. ..
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will generate more revenues, that will be counted as a spending reduction under government rules because premiums for medicare beneficiaries count as a reduction in spending. if you look at indexing formulas and things of that nature to end a perfect and the spending side and revenue side, with completion or otherwise come to you conducing structural that will both slows spending as well as generate additional revenues. now we need to do a lot more
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than that. i think what we also need to do is recognize reality. our goal should be not balancing the budget because with all due respect were not going to do that anytime soon in the states don't do it either. the way d├ęcolletage budget is not a balanced budget. the using cash flow, not a cruel. but we need to focus on michael michael -- like a laser is debt to gdp and set log reach targets with debt to gdp with enforcement mechanisms that those milestones are it. past, realistically whatever you don't let expired, extend the end of september along with the debt ceiling limit. so you have all three things come together at once with a more realistic enforcement mechanism because obviously the nuclear device didn't work. the super committee was a super failure committee and therefore we have to recognize those kinds of devices won't work.
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you've got to attend a more pragmatic. >> a discussion of the fiscal class has gotten more domestic everyday. but we really can't go over it. one thing gives me a little hope in a testing to me there are three things we almost absolutely have to fix. one david mentioned the alternative minimum tax. right now we have to fix it retroactively for 2012. if we don't do that, though be over 25 million americans that getting a shock when they get their tax returns early this year or next year. they may not be able to do it early because i'm told the irs is not prepared for contingencies not fixing the amt, so they have to reprogram computers. they've got to do all sorts of other things.
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the other thing is i can't imagine will allow doctors under medicare to experience a 27% cut there won't be many doctors serving the medicare program if you do that. thirdly, i really do think we have to fix the estate tax of which goes back to a million dollars exemption. in my neighborhood, that's the house. so i strongly recommend if we don't fix it, you don't die in 2013. i said that at an earlier meeting and congressman frenzel responded, but she should commit to it in 2012. [laughter] >> watch what your kids speedier. >> so i have to hope that if we could concentrate on fixing
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these three things, maybe we could then broaden the agreement to cover more areas on the revenue and spending side. david is right we do have these things that should encourage us to do something of the debt limit. i would add to that contritely come you didn't mention the continuing resolution, which we know expires march 1st. so we have coming together at the same that should provide a very, very strong incentive to get them done in the longer run. >> i guess i would echo just about everything you guys had said. i think the fiscal clip is absolutely, as he started out, marty, this post-deadline. indeed this is a crisis entirely created by congress and the president. so you picked the right for things. i think they have to deal with the amt.
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they showed absolutely in my book have to deal with boxes. thurston extended unemployment and i think there's a little bit more like a ravenous for his perspective, but it's out there is an issue. and then there's the estate tax whose these things are critical in have to be done via they have to make a decision as to what to do on the sequestering tax policy. my recommendation or would be to simply extend the current policy with regard to those two because they are running out of time. the president's going to hawaii shortly said they had maybe two weeks left. it's not the time to go through complex policy issues because he will give them the short trip. they should extend them for some period of time, when the cr expires the 10th of the debt limit. i can spend sort of the more hard times -- hard deadlines when issues need to be
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addressed. i do think there are these and i mention i'm nt that, because we worked together so long list of everyone that i would. as i strongly agree to bipartisan issues. raise the retirement age for medicare and social security spoke on index it to longevity. take care of the colas, take your reducing subsidies and medicare by further means testing premium from which exist today. at premium for part a, consolidate for all the programs. there's further means testing that could be done social security through progressive indexing and things like that. those are thanks to thought around town in the policy community. he could do it though very quickly. there's a need to be done december? not a few extend our policy. the important thing is this makes a substantial down payment for long-term sustainability. to focus on 10 years on port and
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coming to see this cash flow issues, it doesn't deliver the reforms that will be reducing our debt to gdp ratio and stabilizing it. i don't know why we aren't hearing serious conversation about this from the guys negotiating. some of these things are included in the president's own budget. there were smaller than i would like to have seen. they're also included in the house republican budget. simple things to do, easy to do and a built. i don't have a conversation about that? >> the problem is if you extend the fourth names that have just been mentioned on everything else, there's no down payment. >> which are not going to extend the tax policy. that's not going to happen. >> is no down payment now. what i'm saying is you have to do these other things.
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let me tell you my concern. i do a lot of talking outside and inside the beltway. i am concerned that liberals have misread the election and are overreaching. there's absolutely no question that the price and i think campaigned on more revenues and more share for the wild tea. i think it's legitimate to say that. but to say that he is more than that is not credible. from what we are hearing right now is we are hearing grand bargain type numbers on revenues, but not grand bargain type numbers with regard to either in spending. in addition, they're talking past each other. for example, the president said we want to raise martial tax rates. if you do what i said about tax reform and the cpa, so i little but about taxes.
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the fact is you generate more revenues. you increase the effective tax rate of the wealthy, whatever you define that as, more than going back to a tax policy. it's more acceptable for republicans to go that route and it's more in line with comprehensive tax reform, which is where we need to go. so when i'm concerned if they need to give real company to focus on avoiding the cliff and set the targets for the grand bargain and focus on debt to gdp like a laser. >> i agree with david. i think allison come you're probably too optimistic here. as the republicans have become less and transit on the revenue side committee that is right that the other side has become much stronger against any kind of reforms to entitlement. and the both of us have been in meetings recently were organized groups have really come out very, very strongly about to
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touch the social security, my medicare, maine medicaid and so forth. but we have to do, one thing that puzzles me about all of this if you really project where we're going to a sovereign debt crisis, it seems to me to be inevitable if we don't change this policy. the people who will be hurt are the poorer. all you've got to do is look at southern europe to see what's going on. 25% unemployment in greece and in spain. imagine that the minority employment would be if we had 25% unemployment rate on average in the united states. we see pensions being cut without any notice hardly at all in these countries. we see social programs slashed. i think if we convince the representatives of the so-called
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disadvantaged groups that there is at least some probability that that will happen to us. i was a certainty that will happen to us eventually if we don't do something about the situation. i would think it'd be much more sober in their demands. at this moment i don't see it. >> i would say that a lot of this is before talking inside the beltway, that's a different conversation in the wake of of outside the beltway. part of the disservice the debate is happening today as it is steering away from what the real issues are common to most pressing issue, which is a sovereign potential for the debt crisis ever optimistic. it's steering the conversation away or not and it is not helping ordinary americans understand that the threat is over a somewhat longer term. i don't think we have 25 years
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anymore. i don't how long we have. maybe it's to come immediate sides. davis has three to five. of course you can say that a few years now. we get closer and closer. every year we build up our dad on every repost on tackling entitlements coming up, we're closer and closer to this. does the disservice, the conversation about the fiscal cliff is doing is it taking backsliding on public understanding of what the real challenges are. >> we have political panel, barbie technical sense. we somebody ran the congressional budget office. we somebody that is worked in the state budgets. we have people that can count, which is always a disadvantage in discussion of federal finance. and yet we come up with a
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consensus of things we all know we need to do. and i'm kind of been a little bit of a provocateur here, but i really am worried about the fiscal finance in this country because i think we're getting it will freak because europe is having the problems they are having nicer result of the purse of the world have access savings and are doing the investment don't have a great choice. u.s., europe wickedness in favor better. definitely downgraded, interest rates actually fell. i think warbird time. but why none of the political -- why are they playing political games when they're such a real issue out there? >> first, it's more than a flight to safety. something is done now to agree to something never done in the united states.
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we're self-dealing adirondack. the federal reserve is now the largest holder of u.s. dead. it's purchasing over 70% of all new u.s. dead issue and says. in addition it's done the twist of sound long-term interest rates to help the economy, to help the housing market. in addition if you look at people buying our debt, their appetite is getting less common upgrader. if you look at what they're buying, they buy short-term debt, not long-term debt because of huge interest rate disc over time. if you look at china in particular, they are now looking at corporate bonds and alternative investments within u.s. treasury securities because they don't like what they see and understandably so. so we are living on borrowed time. we've created another bubble in my view is the reason the fed is doing a kissimmee and it was changed to where they have to be concerned with short-term employment. in the absence of the deck
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unsustainable over time. >> the most successful fiscal consolidations in the developed democratic world occurred in canada in the mid-1990s. i frankly asked canadian politicians, how did she do it? because the public wind from cheering on spending two and a set deficits within a matter of a year or two so that governments in canada now with some peril if they don't balance the budget. the answer you most frequently to do so they have to do was say that 40% of revenues was going to pay the interest bill and the canadian debt. the public immediately realized i was not a great idea and
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became strongly against increasing the debt further. we can't make that argument for other reasons they said. indeed, we run these massive deficit and because interest rates have come down, the interest bill has barely moved at all. but it won't take much to change that. even with a modest projections in terms of the kind of interest rate increases they they see over time, we're going to quadruple our interest bill with 12 years or something like that. so hopefully that will get attention. i almost regret the fact that markets have reacted more negatively to overdoing them may have. >> certainly feel up to $16 trillion in debt total, $19 enough a dead, interest rate
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server model, if they go up 2.5% to 3%, you look at $500 billion a year in additional interest cause, which right now the total deficit is a trillion. you look at 50% interest rates go back to anywhere near long-term averages. you're absolutely right. i was asked one time in a panel in the first answer the question is some of that effected change anything out there, talking about tax reform, but would help us get to tax reform? with an understanding of the american people. the average american. they don't understand the tax code. therefore they don't understand what it's doing or not doing. the headline was chamber, ms. cho's american public. i didn't. what he said is they are not cognizant of what's in the tax code. but equally not cognizant of what's in the budget issue and they think they can don't budget
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by cutting foreign aid. i have seen a lot of educational initiatives go on, but they don't necessarily seem to have any leg. how do we get the american public to understand the debate we had here today, which was a lot more agreement than debate. >> first, alice and i participated in something called a wake-up tour which became his solutions to her now come back during the next generation of that, which we did in september, october this year. what you have to do is build a burning platform. you have to understand the kinds of polls the most politicians listen to our superficial and closely misleading. when the public is asked, do not have to work longer for social security? to want to pay higher premiums for medicare? doing to pay my taxes? what to expect them them to say?
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so my point is on the other hand when you build a burning platform caves cut which quite frankly can be done in 1015 minute when it dozens of times, they get it. that's when you get 90% of top priority to 85% of spending and revenues weighted toward spending. 70% plus agreement. so what does that mean? the biggest deficit of the leadership deficit. what about leadership from our top political leaders and the president needs to use the power of the bully pulpit to build that case. we need to take a boat out of bill clinton's presidency in 1998, were use this type of approach to be able to prepare the way for social security, but this in case for bargain. that's what needs to happen. let me give you three simple ideas for congress. number one, no budget, no pay.
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i'm serious. i'm one of the founders of note labels. if you don't pass a budget and all the appropriations bills by the beginning of the fiscal year come you don't get paid until you do that so rectory is paid. the only thing in the constitution are supposed to do every year, california did it come high behavioral impact. number two, no deal, no break. starting in 2013, they don't get any recesses until they get a grand bargain. these people to seven times more days of the typical american. if they got pay-for-performance, they would owe us money. thirdly, every member of congress should be required to prepare their taxes. if they had to do it, they would
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wake up and we get tax reform a lot quicker. whenever on the country as people come even cpas, less than 5%. as governor ravitch knows, a lot of people, tens of millions subject to the alternative minimum tax that i am, i don't get itemize deductions but for two things come interest on a home mortgage and charitable contributions. nothing for state taxes, local taxes, gone. so people need to recognize the reality of where we are and where we need to be changed in 10 days in order to get people to change behavior. >> what david can explain these things clearly to ordinary folks and a lot of people have made this for, on the other hand many see the information the general public it, one almost has to
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leap. one way we totally confuse people these days is something called the baseline. the definition of the baseline is on the wall and it tells cbo that they have to look at the implications of current law. when they do that, they have to use them all these tax cuts expire. now that so ridiculous that most of us use other kinds of baselines. we use something called the current policy baseline, which essentially stands all these tax laws. more recently, everybody seems to be able to choose their own baseline. the president has his own peculiar baseline, which takes credit for saving money for ending the war is one example. both simpson, as much as i'd
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like what they did, they had a brother i'd be fine which is that we didn't continue tax cut to the rich. no wonder the public is totally baffled by all this. i think other countries is the contest of the baseline. if you like the british austerity program, they compare what they propose to what they did last year. the really radical notion. so they, for example propose a tax for health spending on health, they don't compare it to what would have been with the symposium and it's a bit less generous than not. whereas when we talk about reforming social security, talk about cut in benefits, when all we're doing is slowing the growth. if you look at the
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simpson/bowles for social security, the average benefit for everybody continues to increase over time. and as much the more apt aren't as lower income. so we so confuse the public. if surprised to have the vaguest notion of what's in mine. >> you see this reflected if you just look at simple pools that it is confusing. you hear coyotes, tax cuts. were not talking about tax cuts. figure all this fighting and if you go out and engage with the public, as david and i and rudy have done outside of washington, first place you have to get people working to be out of their busy schedule. these are really complex issues. you can boil them down to a soundbite, nor should we.
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so this is one of the challenges that confront us is your political leaders who are afraid to tackle major problems that involve benefit that will at some point affect everybody in this room and everybody in the country. it's hard to do and it's really easy to demagogue it. the one thing we should take out of it is the public, maybe it's a harsh word, but they're pretty disgusted at the way washington has broken down into total disrepair. the factor not having the conversation in the part of the leadership, all three parts of it about the fiscal close is really a major part of the problem. we just had election in which it not campaigning. about this defined whether or not it's artificial, the death
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of innocent enemy to pass a budget is then. so no wonder the public turns out. >> i think the word you used is the right word, disgusted. it's not the solution, it's disgusted. if there was a mandate, since the republican return to the house, democrats in the senate and the president must reelect it, but man did it start working together to solve problems. >> on that note, we'll open it up to questions from the audience. if any of you have questions, but your hand up, get them might come identify yourself on fire away. after designating a question a specific panel, go had been a. would it umax. go ahead. [inaudible]
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[inaudible] >> anybody want to jump in? >> go quickly, government has gone today, promise too much, waited too long to restructure, but it's not too late. when it restructures come it's going to spend significantly less than projected. it's going to tax more than historically it's tax, which means two things are the charitable sector would be more important privileges the reason why you limit contributions. individuals have to assume more responsibility for their own future. therefore it charities need to recognize that reality and charities need to figure out what they can do to improve their role in some level of support for charitable contributions to bona fide charities to the tax law.
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>> the problem is not what we promise the poor. the problem is that we promised a middle class and mainly the middle-class authority. our expenditures on medicare and social security are literally squeezing the life out of the rest of the government. i think advocacy group should be among the strongest proponents of fixing these major entitlement programs, medicare and social security. and we can do that without impacting the poor at all. in fact, not abolish it today. >> i do think we have a myriad. to duplicate it, don't have good outcomes. those groups think about these issues, it's important to focus on outcomes, streamlining programs really on ways that we can string of civil society in
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the partnership between private charities and the relationships with those that they held. the government is going to have a role. we want to a safety net. one agreed to be strengthened, streamlined and they don't want incentives to remain that lead to further still in the wind come in poverty. as many as say the unintended consequences of great society programs. so by separating what i would call a reciprocal agreement and doing something in exchange for them, another was welfare in exchange for work and marriage, those are things that further inculcate behavior and key people in poverty. so not only been engage on the spending part from the federal government, but what are the outcomes we want and what are the policies that are married to any of the spending programs that are important that will help more people get out of
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poverty. the only thing that will go is making sure we have programs put in place to meet fundamental progrowth tax reform as one that it's the economy growing as fast as they can to get more people back to work began to have better wage growth. >> i think we have time for maybe one more question. do you want a quick one? committed a microphone microphone appear, please? >> just one fast comment. in new york we passed a law saying legislators passed a budget and legislators in enough money. [laughter] for that became a problem. seriously, it's true. my question is as follows. the fad has an enormous amount of financial asset.
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if they would've let interest rates go up, the decline which in and of itself, of an even more shocking impact on our economy. is that not true? how do we ever get out if the fed is continuing to buy these financial asset that the quantity they are doing now? how do we ever get out of that mass? santan, i agree with everything you've all said that she didn't disagree about the problem. to me with that of the way our politics is financed because the final analysis, the earnings really have such an amount of leverage of this process and they are the ones that are not compromising and they are driving in addition to the lack of strong political leadership, they are the ones driving an extension of the stalemate. >> i will answer your first question on the fed.
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the fed holds short-term, some long-term is staggered. right now there's $40 billion a month. they would start to unwind that balance sheet very, very quickly. the question is, the banks in turn have redeposit at the proceeds of those fund entertaining basis points by $35 billion a year subsidy. the fed can change that as well and unwind the banks willingness to do these essentially swap arrangements with the fed. it would allow the fed to reduce allen's if they so chose. as rudy pointed out and as david pointed out, right now in terms of keeping the economy going, what they're really trying to do that so much as create landing by the banks of the retail local business level, but they are
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trying to recapitalize the banks, providing essentially t.a.r.p. to produce repurchase arrangement that they engage in. it's about a $35 billion subsidy here. that is an issue that is a safety issue we talk about here and one for another seminar on a set policy. but to start an argument on that one in a hurry. >> i suggest the law they passed the new york didn't include one of the provisions i said. no richer wachter paid. they might borrow money for cash flows, but they lose the money forever. >> just a couple points on the fed. i wouldn't wipe out capital losses because central banks were in the philippines from their central bank had a huge negative equity. the central banks can go on without necessarily having a
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positive equity. secondly, they have all sorts of tools that they can theoretically use, other than having to unwind their balance sheet. they can increase reserve ratios that they can increase interest rates they pay out excess reserves and so on. so they have a lot of control out there, which makes me less worried about the fed ellen sheets. not that i approved of what they were doing recently. but i think they can get out of there fairly easily. >> i would just add that the president had this massive undertaking, you know, in almost a desperate wickets at the underlying problem. this is a fiscal policy issue and we have an absolute lack of leadership. this fact of the tax policy, much of which has been in place for over a decade is a
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completely congressionally made thing in congress and the president had refused to work on it until now. so likewise they refuse to substantively tackle the spending part, both of which get us to our debt. so you have this utter lack of anything happening responsibly and fiscal policy that is having a drag today on the economy. so the poor fed is left to do something to tackle the unemployment issue. again, we are back the fact that we have to have things happening on the budget. we have two serious steps taken on entitlements in particular and we need stability and tax policy. >> with that, i'm going to call an end to this. would you think david, rudy, allison especially. we could go on for hours.
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i think it's important to understand the one commonality that all of us appear share in bad is that this is real. it will have real impacts, a real problem. we know what the solution is. everybody reduce the thickness of the solution is. or kind of arguing a little bit about where becoming one-way or the other. while we are doing a come our country and economy is suffering. we need to leadership. and the congress and the ministration become together and to find the commonalities laid out here in this country in the right direction. it doesn't have to be an absolute perfect answer. there's a lot we can do that would make the situation better than it is now. unfortunately, i'm not sure we're getting anywhere on this one. so with that, what do think the
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audience. how much you think panel. we will call in and of much about go contemplate what they said here today. thank you all very much in thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> up next, joe lieberman who served four terms >> mr. president, my fourth and final term as united states will soon come to an end. as i reflect on that reality, and of course filled with many emotions, but the one that i feel most is gratitude. gratitude first to god, creator of life and law, without whose lovingkindness nothing would be
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possible. gratitude to america, whose extraordinary land of opportunity, which has given someone like so many opportunities. gratitude to the people of connecticut who have entrusted me with the privilege of public service for 40 years, the last 24 in the united states senate. gratitude to my senate colleagues to micom tanakh as france and the tablet has been such an honor to serve. gratitude to other people without whose help, hard work and the port, i never would have made it to the senate or state here. the gifted and hard-working staff in connecticut and washington are supported, informed and enrichment service here in the volunteers in my campaign to give so much and asked for nothing in return except that i do what i believe is right. gratitude to all those who labor
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out of view in the corridors of this capitol building from the maintenance crews to the capitol police and everybody else anywhere in this building. thank you for keeping our capital running in keeping us safe. and gratitude, most of all to my family and they've given me every day of my life. my parents, grandparents and siblings, children and grandchildren and my wife of almost 30 years now, the love of my life who has been my constant companion supporter and partner through this amazing adventure. and so, i want to begin his farewell speech basically simply saving thank you all. i have a lot to be grateful for. but mr. president, being a senator and since this is my
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farewell speech, i do have a few more things i'd like to say. i am leaving the senate as a moment in our history where america faces challenges both domestic and foreign and went to often problem seemed greater than our government's ability to solve them, but i can tell you to remain deeply up the mistake about america's future and constantly inspired by the special destiny but i'm convinced is ours as americans. my optimism is not based in erie for hope, but american history and first looks. i think particularly about my time in public life and especially the changes witnessed since he took the oath of office as a senator in january 3rd, in 1889. over the past quarter century,
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america and the world have become freer and more prosperous. this peacefully torn down and the soviet empire defeated. the freedom and opportunity on which america was founded and for which we still stand to make global gains that were once unimaginable. we stem the spread of democracy from central europe to southeast asia and from latin america to the middle east. hundreds of lines of people who have been out of poverty in places like china, india and just about every other corner of the globe. technological advances have transformed over almost every aspect of our daily lives. when i started here at the center, the black berry was a fruit and tweaking something was what birds did. no more.
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none of these developments happen by accident. in fact, to a significant degree, i would say they were made possible by the principled leadership of the united states, united states, by the global economy and international system that america created with our diplomacy unprotected with our military. and maybe unique culture of freedom, innovation and entrepreneurship to four shows in our country and remains the model and inspiration for the rest of the modernizing world. we have every reason to be proud of the progress of humanity that it happened on america's walk. here at home to be grateful for the countless ways in which our own country has been benefited in the process. we live in a world whose shape and project jury the united states were than any other nation's response before. it's not a perfect world. i know that. but it is a better world than
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the one we inherited and in my opinion is in so many ways a better world that has ever existed before. here at home over the past quarter century, we move closer to the more perfect union our founders thought, becoming a more free and open society in way those same founders never could've imagined. barriers of discrimination and bigotry but just a few decades ago seemed immovable heart been broken and doors of opportunity have been open wider for all americans regardless of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, orientation, age or disability. during my time in washington we've had our first e-mail secretary of state nominated and confirmed in our first african-american president of the given regular. it will forever remain one of my
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deepest honors thanks to vice president gore, i was given a opportunity to be the first nominated by a major political party for national office and incidentally, thanks to the american people, grateful to have received a half-million more votes than my opponent's on the other side. but that's a longer story. [laughter] so while there is still much more work to do in many problems to be solved, i believe we can and should approach our future with a confident based on the real substantial progress but it together. what is required now is to solve the urgent problems we still have. and what's really required to do that is leadership. leadership of a kind that is never easier, and, but we as americans know we can summon in times of need because we summoned it before.
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today, i regret to say that we decide that the greatest obstacle i see standing between us and the greater american future we all want is right here in washington. it's the partisan polarization of our politics, which prevents us from making the principle can't revise it so much progress in the democracy depends and right now prevents us from restoring fiscal solvency of the nation. we need bipartisan leadership to break the gridlock in washington that will unleash all the potential that is in the american people. and so i would respectfully make this appeal to my colleagues, especially the 12 new senators who will take the oath of office for the first time next month. i know how hard each review has
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worked to get elected to the united states senate. and i know that you work so hard because you want to come here to make a difference for the better. there's no magic or mystery about the way to do so in the u.s. senate. it requires reaching across the aisle and finding partners from the opposite party. it means ultimately putting the interest of country and constituents ahead of the date taped the party and ideology. when i look back at my own career comes the legislative achievements and pride is to been part of bypassing the clean air act in 1990, stopping the genocide in the balkans, creating the 9/11 commission and the department of homeland security, reforming the intelligence community, reorganizing fema and repealing "don't ask, don't tell" all were
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achieved because of the critical mass of democrats and republicans found common ground. and that is what is desperately needed in washington now to solve our nation's biggest problems and address our biggest challenge is before they become crises or catastrophes. our future also depends on our nation continuing to exercise another kind of leadership and that is leadership yonder borders. who's never been east. americans have rarely been eager to an english cells abroad, especially at times when we faced economic difficulties at home as we do now there's been a temptation to inward, to tell ourselves of the problems of the world are not our responsibility or we cannot afford to do anything about them. in fact, the prosperity, security and freedom of the american people depend more than
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ever before on what is happening in the rest of the world. and so too does the rest of the world depend especially en masse. i know we can't solve all of the planet's problems by ourselves, nor should we try. but the fact is that of the biggest problems facing the world can or will be solved in the absence of american leadership. here too i appeal to my senate colleagues and again, especially those who will take the oath of office for the first time early in january. do not listen to the political consultants or others who tell you you shouldn't spend time on foreign affairs for national security. they're wrong. the american people need us, the senate to stay engaged economically, diplomatically and militarily and in ours our
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world. do not underestimate the impact you can help by getting involved in matters of foreign policy and national security. whether by using your voice to stand in solidarity with those who are struggling for the american ideal of freedom in their own countries across the globe are working to strengthen the policy and national security institutions around the country by rallying our citizens to embrace the role we as a country must play on the world stage as both our interests and values demand. none of the challenges we face today in a still dangerous road is beyond her ability to meet, just as we found it ethnic cleansing in the balkans, we can stop the slaughter in syria. just as they nurture the democratic transitions after communism fell in eastern europe, we support the sources of freedom in the middle east today. just as we were able to prevail in the long struggle against the
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soviet union during the cold war, we can prevail in the global conflict with islamist extremism and terrorism that we were forced in to predict terrorist attacks of september 11, 2001. but all that to will require leadership in the united states senate. it will require leaders who will stand against the siren song of isolationism, who will defend our defense and foreign assistance budget, who will support when necessary the use of america's military power against our enemies in the world and who will have the patience and determination when the public grows weary to see our battles through until they are one. mr. president, i first stepped foot in this chamber, sit years ago in the summer of 1963
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comments by a thick so many in my generation that president john f. kennedy and his call to service. i spent that summer rate here in the senate as an intern for my home state senator, he burmah koff. he was then renamed and other personal hero mine. although i never would've said that it so publicly that and because it was so presumptuous, i came away from that experience is a dream that i might someday, somehow returned to serve in this place. i've been blessed to have had during that is what america is all about. we have always been a nation of dreamers whose destiny is determined only by the balance of our own imagination and by our willingness to work hard to realize what we've imagine. indeed come on before the united states came into being as a government of institutions of laws, it is a dream, and
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implausible, incredible training can animated by state of a country defined not by its borders on or by its rulers, nor by ethnicity of its founders, but by a set of eternal and universal principles of life, liberty and pursuit is often assert that its endowment to each of us. those are trained to give us our existence and purpose as a nation and it's the dream that for more than 200 years, through every passing generation has reinventing, enthralling and surprising us, the very dreamers who are living not trained. i leave this chamber full of faith in the dream of america assisted yury quarter of a century ago to take the oath of office for the first time. when i first came here nearly a
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half-century ago as a 21-year-old, the grandchild of four immigrant to america, the son of wonderful parents who never had the opportunity even to go to college ,-com,-com ma and the nature of my sisters i did and gave us the confidence to pursue our dreams, which was their american dream for us. america remains a land of dreams and a nation of dreamers. i know that my history repeats itself today in millions of american families and their children and as long as that is so, i k our best days as a country or so ahead of us. so mr. president, i want my remarks today were country began a long time ago, with a dream and a prayer that god will continue to buzz the united states of america.ay f >> thank you, mr. president.
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i rise today for one final time to address the senate. and my remarks will be brief and actually i just want to say one thing. thank s you. first i wish i could say it with the eloquence of one of my first friends in the senate, senator dale bumpers, who told his stora lion tethered to a specially made extra-long microphone cord. or with the breadth of vision of the late senator robert c. byrd who sprinkled his classic mother's day or fourth of july speeches with memorized poetry and his vast command of history. or with the fire of my dear friend, the late senator ted kennedy, who would bell owe to the -- bellow to the rafters his passion for the america that could be and then call on the senate to make it so. what a privilege it has been to serve with such men, and so many
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other men and women who have made up this body over the last 24 years. you have been my friends, advisors, sometimes adversaries and always worthy and my inspiration, and i thank you. my colleagues in this body are to a man or a woman thoughtful, hard-working patriots. we do not always agree, understandably, but every senator i have met is pursuing a course that he or she believes is best for the nation, and advocating policies that he or she believes are best for their state. and when i have come to any of you with my ideas about what's best for the nation or for my state, you have listened respectfully, counseled wisely and helped whenever you could. so i thank you. the senate is often referred to as a family, and that is certainly how i feel about my staff. many of whom are gathering today
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to say our goodbyes. perhaps what i will miss the most on leaving the senate is coming to work every day here in washington and in wisconsin with such a bright, creative, and dedicated group of people, constantly focused on what's best for our nation and my state. challenging and pushing me to be the best senator i could be. you cannot be a cynic about the future of this country when you work in an office like mine and work in an office like mine and .. intelligent, civic-minded and loyal staffers. and so i thank them all. for making a hard job not just easy but enjoyable, and for serving the people of wisconsin tirelessly and exceedingly well. my final thanks go to the extraordinary people of wisconsin.
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thank you for letting me pay back in part the great debt my family owes to the state that took in my immigrant mother and father, and allowed our family, including my brothers, sidney and allen, and our sister delauros, to grow and thrive. thank you for taking a chance on me in that first election 24 years ago and renewing my contract three more times. thank you for trusting me with your problems and concerns, your hopes and dreams. please know that we have listened to you carefully and fought for you always. every wisconsinite who wanted it, democrat or republican, rich or poor, farmer or city dweller, got full consideration dweller, got full consideration will consideration in my office and whether it f was arranging a capitalin tour, finding a lost social security check, pushing for legislation to reform the